Oh baby, here we go! If you win, are you in? This is the last regular season week for most leagues, and lots of people need just one more win to make the postseason. A waiver wire add or an unsexy named-player started could make or break the regular season finale.
As I continuously say, at least you don’t need a winning team to have a standout or sleeper fantasy player. Such as rookie Jonathan Mingo out of Ole Miss, who you’ll read about more in depth below. A top sleeper on a one-win, worst team in the NFL? You got that right.
I used to write a weekly Start Em, Sit Em with Sleepers and Busts at another publication, but have brought my talents to RSJ and am revamping the launch of that series. Let’s be honest, do you really need to be told to start Tua Tagovailoa, a MVP candidate on a team favored by nearly two touchdowns against a mediocre Titans team? Or to sit Kyle Pitts who has one touchdown through 13 games and scored 6.5 PPR points or less in three of his past five games?
In Week 13, we saw Commanders’ running back Antonio Gibson, Saints’ receiver and tight end A.T. Perry and Taysom Hill, Cardinals’ wideout Greg Dortch and Buccaneers’ quarterback Baker Mayfield make the list.
I know, you see that list and laugh at the Perry and Dortch selection. Sometimes there’s such a thing as over-analyzing. I was correct however in saying a Saints’ wide receiver wouldn’t play due to injury, but I picked the wrong one (which is still wild to me that Chris Olave played following his concussion).
Arizona also broke nearly every rule in the book. The Cardinals, on the road in a west to east coast game at 1 p.m. eastern. Historically, teams in that position perform poorly. But, on the back of former Steeler James Conner, Arizona handed Pittsburgh an upset loss – and at the expense of starting signal caller Kenny Pickett.
But we’ll do better this week. We’re looking for diamonds in the rough, and this week is no different.
JERICK MCKINNON, RB KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
VS BUFFALO BILLS
With Isiah Pecheco out of the lineup this week, McKinnon has a proven track record of success when he sees meaningful volume in Andy Reid‘s offense. Coincidentally or not, this always seems to happen right at the end of the season.
Just last year, McKinnon ended up being a legitimate league-winner. From Weeks 14-17, he scored 32.4 FPs (RB1), 34.2 FPs (RB1), 12.8 FPs (RB19), and 22.6 FPs (RB7), and ultimately ended up being one of the most-rostered RBs on championship rosters in all of fantasy.
Ultimately, this late-season explosion led to McKinnon leading all RBs in fantasy points per opportunity for 2022.
Yet, this isn’t the only late season surge we’ve seen from McKinnon in a Chiefs uniform. During the 2021 NFL playoffs, McKinnon averaged 17.1 FPPG, never dipping below 12.8 FPs thanks to the following stats (via PlayerProfiler):
Andy Reid has routinely maximized McKinnon’s receiving skillset, especially as a Red Zone threat.
Whether or not Clyde Edwards-Helaire gets the first crack at carries or not, give me McKinnon all day. CEH has never sniffed this level of production, and McKinnon should be leaned upon in his receiving role, at minimum.
TYLER CONKLIN, TE NEW YORK JETS
VS HOUSTON TEXANS
Tyler Conklin is no newcomer to this series. But his matchup at home against Houston with his favorite quarterback under center again is too juicy to ignore. Remember Tampa Bay tight end Cade Otton’s two-touchdown game? That came against Houston in Week 9 and was a top streamer. It’s his only double-digit game of the year in standard leagues – and he barely exceeds the cusp in other weeks for half and full PPR. Conklin is looking for his first double-digit game, too, even if his woes are more understandable.
It’s no secret Conklin catches more balls and is targeted more with Zach Wilson. This game could also be closer than some think, as Houston will be without wide receiver Tank Dell (fibula) and possibly tight end Dalton Schultz. A low scoring affair could see Conklin act like possession slot receiver Jamison Crowder, who used chunk plays as a Jet to remain fantasy relevant.
JONATHAN MINGO, WR CAROLINA PANTHERS
AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The Panthers (1-11) are hinting at getting their younger players more involved after playoff elimination. The last time Carolina faced the Saints, Jonathan Mingo saw his highest target total of the season, eight, that held true until last week when he saw 10 in Tampa Bay. Wide receivers Adam Thielen has 27 yards across his last two games, and D.J. Chark has been relegated to the No. 3 receiver as the team is trying to get younger and decide who the franchise wants next season. Live tryouts, if you will.
The Saints are No. 3 against the pass, but with Jameis Winston now under center, and unconfirmed starting wide receiver corps, New Orleans shouldn’t be on offense as much as usual. The Panthers’ players are playing for their jobs.
ODELL BECKHAM JR., WR BALTIMORE RAVENS
VS LA RAMS
Any time you see a revenge game on one’s schedule, the first thing you should do is circle it. Odell Beckham Jr. gets the Rams this week, the team he won a Super Bowl with that didn’t re-sign him. Look at James Conner last week for example in Pittsburgh – 25 touches, two touchdowns.
It’s Week 14 and I still don’t know what to make of a Jeckyl and Hyde Rams team. But, I refuse to count out Matthew Stafford – and with Kyren Williams back, this could be a back and forth game that beats the 40-point over/under. Ahkello Witherspoon and Derion Kendrick don’t scare me at corner, and if Beckham Jr. can steer clear of safety Jordan Fuller I expect him to score. This is the game Baltimore had in mind when signing him this offseason.